Archive for October, 2015

Do You Try to Appease God?

Friday, October 30th, 2015

A word I never use is today’s word-of-the-week…

APPEASE

I heard the word in a sermon, but I’m far too familiar with the concept of trying to appease God.

When you lay it out, it sounds silly. Appeasement means paying God off. If I give God something that pleases Him, He’ll give me something I want in return.

Of course I would first need to have something God wants, and the ability to keep it from Him. The more you pursue the idea the crazier it becomes, and yet…

Of course I know I can’t bargain with God and I’m not blessed for being good. Of course poverty isn’t a curse for bad behavior and wealth isn’t a reward for good behavior. Of course I know my health isn’t contingent on being a “good Christian.”

I know all that stuff, but when things get scary it’s awfully tempting to bargain, just this once. It’s hard to trust, especially when so much of the culture, even so-called Christian media, talks about a health-and-wealth gospel. When you’re scared, that message gets tempting.

It’s okay. Jesus was tempted, too. He saw the appeal of the shortcut, but He knew it wouldn’t work.

So He trusted, and He invites us to trust in a relationship based on grace.

We can stop trying to pay God off.

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

When Trust Is Shattered

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

“He told me he’s sorry and will never look at another woman again,” Betsy said. She reached for the tissue box on my desk. “He said he loves me. I don’t believe him anymore, Ms. Yvonne.”

“His infidelity has shattered your trust. Right now, you can’t trust him.”

With a nod, Betsy said, “I don’t. If he says he has to go to work early or stay late, I think he’s lying.” She unbuttoned her purple jacket and removed it. “If the phone rings, and he races to answer it, I wonder if it’s the other woman.”

“That’s a natural reaction. If the situation were reversed, he wouldn’t trust you right away either. Trust is earned over time.

I explained that in Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, to repent means “to change one’s mind or purpose always . . . for the better.” Vine’s also says that in the New Testament, repentance refers to sin, and “this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God.”

She sat in silence for a few moments and stared out my office window. Then she whispered, “How will I know if he’s really repented and has turned from infidelity?”

“You may not for a while. Time will tell. It will require patience on your part and his.

Can you identify with Betsy? Because of your husband’s infidelity, do you wonder whether you can believe a word he says? Does he try to make you feel guilty for not trusting him immediately?

2 Corinthians 7:10: “Godly sorrow brings repentance.”

Dear God, my husband’s infidelity left me devastated. Show me what to do. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to help you understand the process of rebuilding trust?

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
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

You can’t be lost without first truly belonging!

Monday, October 26th, 2015

You can’t be lost without first truly belonging! Our belonging trumps any lost-ness we have ever experienced! As bearers of the image and likeness of God, we are always invited into the depths of His searching and finding. I desire to fully know and be fully known!

The story of Calvary’s Cross beckons us afresh into knowing Jesus as The Son of Man. As Son of Man he gave His life for the world; establishing for all ages (past, present and future) our life in Him. As Son of Man he finds us in our lost-ness and brings us into the knowing of Him as our Savior, Sacrificial Lamb, Head of the Church, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Great High Priest and Coming Groom!

Our only contribution is to daily embrace the finished work of Jesus. We can only do this by grace through faith!

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages (this very day) he might show (in and through you and me) the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works so that no man can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:4-9, NIV)

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in the hearts of all that love him, Christ in friends, enemies, strangers and all nations, tribes and tongues! (Adapted from St. Patrick)

“God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
2 I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
3 You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
4 You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.
5 I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence,
coming and going.
6 This is too much, too wonderful –
I can’t take it all in!

7 Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
(Is there any place) to be out of your sight?
8 If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
9 If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon,
10 you’d find me in a minute – you’re already there waiting!
11 Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
12 It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day,
darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

13 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
14 I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul,
I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation!
15 You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
16 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
17 Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful!
God, I’ll never comprehend them!
18 I couldn’t even begin to count them
– any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!” (Psalm 139: 1-18, Msg.)

All that was lost has found it’s place in Jesus in us!

May we know as we are known, perfectly in His D.N.A. (divine nature added)!

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.

Why I Don’t Rescue Others

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

rescueEver feel like you needed to rescue someone?

As a new teacher, I was sure I had a lot to offer. The students needed me. They needed what I had. I was the outside expert parachuting into their world to save them from their ignorance and give them what they couldn’t possibly get for themselves.

As my career progressed I discovered I was working with a horribly flawed model. My students didn’t need to be saved by an expert. They needed a partner who brought some resources and skills to the learning process.

And like every good teacher, I learned and grew from the relationship at least as much as my students.

I’ve been reading a lot about how to address injustice issues like poverty and racism. Like me as a new teacher, our solutions usually involve some version of the outside experts swooping in with their version of a solution.

The best solutions involve relationship in which there’s acknowledgement that everyone’s broken and in need of reconciliation. Local folks contribute both ideas and resources, and the entire process is a partnership. It’s about being servants, not saviors.

And there’s never a sense that we’re “bringing Jesus” into communities in which He’s always been active.

I’ve learned that we tend to greatly oversimplify issues of social justice. Poverty, for example, is a good deal more than simple lack of resources. Without understanding, the best intentions may cause harm.

Victims of injustice already have a Savior. They need a partner.

If you want to learn more, I strongly recommend this book: When Helping Hurts

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

Fitting In

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

I wonder what you think about today’s word-of-the-week…

FIT


I heard recently that a big problem with churches is that people don’t feel like they fit in.

I suppose we’re supposed to conclude that churches need to morph and change to conform to the times. Do you agree?

More and more I have this sense that all of the bells and whistles we’ve added to attract folks, to help them fit in, really end up moving us a bit away from center. And we lose a little focus, and we’re not sure why, and we think maybe it’s a problem with the bells and whistles.

I wonder. I wonder if fitting in really isn’t the problem. I wonder if Jesus’ message is enough. I wonder if it’s not so much about making sure people fit in, but about letting them know who He is.

I like great worship music and powerful preaching and cool youth pastors. I’m sure that stuff helps.

Jesus attracted crowds with a message of love, grace, forgiveness, and hope. His followers built a church based on community and service.

Perhaps that’s what people are seeking. Perhaps they’re not looking for something new and hip, the latest thing that’ll feel relevant.

Perhaps what they’re seeking is the stuff at the center. Maybe that’s what’s most relevant.

Maybe the basic message of Jesus would help people fit in.

When An Angel Might Show Up

Monday, October 19th, 2015

ripple-leafI tend to turn following Jesus into an intellectual exercise.

Our small group discussed this verse a few days ago.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

We all agreed on the need to be more aware of the people God might send into our lives. It was a “nice, intellectual discussion.”

A couple of days later Becky and I attended a small gathering in a local restaurant. We met an interesting couple and were enjoying the conversation when a stranger sat down at our table. He introduced himself and asked if he could tell his story.

It was immediately apparent that this young man had some issues, but he did have quite a story wrapped around a rather long, rambling narrative. What I noticed was that my companions displayed much more compassion and genuine interest than I. Frankly, for the first 10-15 minutes I just wanted him to leave.

Thankfully, Becky and our friends redeemed the situation. And as I listened to their questions and saw their concern I thought about the verse in Hebrews. What if this was an angel?

Eventually I managed to get engaged and I suppose the conversation ended as well as it could have in those circumstances. But the entire interaction got me wondering how many times I dismiss an opportunity to show simple kindness toward someone.

It’s so easy to say this guy was rude for interrupting, so it’s okay to push him aside. But hospitality isn’t about easy, it’s about setting my needs and rights aside and serving others.

And who knows when an angel might show up?

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

You Can’t Move from Broken to Beautiful Overnight

Friday, October 16th, 2015

“For years, at least five times a week, I sat at the beach with my journal and cried until my head ached and my eyes were swollen. My mind swirled with questions: Will I ever be strong and stand up for myself? When will I feel free and peaceful? When will I laugh and enjoy life again?”

Can you relate to those questions I asked?

You may wonder how you can change.

First, I realized “change requires hard work.” My work included daily journaling, prayer, Bible study, praise and worship, individual counseling, and a divorce recovery group. What will your work include?

Second, I accepted the fact that change takes time. We can’t rush the healing of a broken heart anymore than we can rush the healing of a broken arm or a broken leg.

Third, I celebrated “each step of progress.” That celebration included breakfast with a friend on one occasion and on another, lunch at a restaurant with friends, a bag of confetti, and balloons. How can you celebrate?

James 5:7—8: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

Dear God, as I change for the better, help me be patient with myself. Amen.

Application: What small step of progress will you celebrate this week?

 

Note: This post is an excerpt from my new book, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward.

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
“Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward”
Download her One Sheet at http://www.yvonneortega.com.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

What We Can Learn from Children

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

kidsI like the children’s sermon.

Becky and I visited a church yesterday that does a children’s sermon during worship. The kids gathered around the leader, poking and squirming and trying to listen while he showed them a bag filled with stones.

“What do you notice about the stones?”

Hands shot up and he pointed to one youngster.

“They’re all different colors. God made them different colors just like He made people different colors.”

Wow. A murmur ruffles through the crowd. I’m thinking we’re not going to improve on that so we might as well go home. The leader called on another kid.

“They’re all different shapes and sizes just like God made people different shapes and sizes.”

By now I figure this must be rehearsed. The leader must have planted these responses.

Turns out he had an entirely different point in mind, so he thanked the kids for their great observations and moved on to teach a wonderful lesson.

Don’t you think it’s cool, though, that little kids just take it for granted that God created people like stones, in all colors and shapes and sizes? Kids know God didn’t make “normal” stones.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we worked a little less hard at teaching them to believe in things like racism and discrimination?

We could do that, you know. We have a guide who hung out with stones of every shape, size, and color.

He even hung out with broken stones, like me, and made them whole again.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-3)

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

Regenerate or Not?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

One of the principle things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one, may be likened unto two filthy rooms.

In one room, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the filth all around.

In the other room, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition.

Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filth which lurks in every corner of his heart.

But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongfully, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption in the pure eyes of the thrice holy God.

Abraham acknowledged, “I am dust and ashes!” Genesis 18:27
Job said of himself, “I am vile!” Job 40:4
David admitted, “I am a worm!” Psalm 22:6
Isaiah confessed, “Woe is me! I am ruined!” Isaiah 6:5<
Peter affirmed, “I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8
Paul considered himself,”The chief of sinners!” 1 Timothy 1:15

“And when the Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” John 16:8<

~Arthur Pink

Being like Him here and now?

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Do we think earnestly about being like Him here and now?

“So that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Titus 2:10

Martin Luther’s insignia was a rose; in the rose a heart; in the heart a cross.

The rose suggests fragrance and beauty–a Christian life should be beautiful, winning, attractive. It should be sweet, pouring forth the fragrance of holy love wherever it goes.

The heart in the rose suggests that all true living for Christ is from the heart.

But at the center of all was the cross. Until we have Christ, we can have neither fragrance nor beauty. We must never forget that nothing but the self-sacrificing love of Christ in our hearts can transform our lives.

We sometimes sing, “Take the world, but give me Jesus”–but do we really mean it? It is a very sweet hymn, but do we mean it? Are we ready to have the prayer answered, fully, wholly–whatever it may cost?

We expect to be like Christ in Heaven, but do we think earnestly about being like Him here and now? Would we exchange our poor, meager measure of Christlikeness today–for Christ to have the complete control of our lives? It would make a tremendous change in our lives, at least, in some of our lives.

“If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

 

~J.R. Miller, “The Religion for the New Year” 1903