Archive for the ‘Step 1’ Category

Carrying a Heavy Burden?

Friday, March 25th, 2016

A favorite verse inspires today’s word-of-the-week…

YOKE

I feel like I’ve encountered a lot of folks lately who seem like they’re carrying a lot of weight around.

“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)

In Jesus’ time, a rabbi’s “yoke” was his teaching, the doctrine and rules his followers were required to accept. So Jesus was telling people to let go of the burdens imposed by the religious leaders–that’s not what He was about.

I love the way this passage is phrased in The Message:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

If you’re one of those folks who’s lugging around something heavy or ill-fitting, I invite you to take a moment and listen to Jesus’ words. Consider the possibility that, even in the midst of struggle, He wants you to experience the unforced rhythms of grace.

I felt prompted to write this, maybe for you…perhaps this is the week for you to let yourself live just a bit more “freely and lightly.”

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

Alert Expectancy or Asleep at the Wheel of Life?

Monday, November 16th, 2015

“We continue to shout our praise even when we are hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for 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, (Msg)

There have been times in my journey that I was much less alert than I thought I was. Spiritually; I was just about asleep while thinking myself to be wide awake. In those times, I didn’t just ‘not’ know much, I didn’t even ‘suspect’ much. It’s like being drugged or drunk and thinking you can drive a car better in that state of mind. Wow, what an awakening it takes to again become clear and alert. God is faithful and merciful to wake us up; not necessarily gently, either!

Shouting my praise, still somewhat hemmed in by troubles – I am beginning to see some light through the fog. How about you? I can honestly report: whatever it takes to get us wide awake, sober-minded, thinking more clear, somewhat dressed and in our ‘right’ minds, is worth it. Or should that be in our ‘left’ minds? I am still in the throes of the awakening and hopefully passionate patience and forged virtue are just around the corner.

I am beginning to see, the bigger prize is a fresh expectancy in my relationship with Papa. I am also getting back to first-love childlike simplicity and faith. “Keeping our eyes on the prize”-like Paul, our hearts are again stirred and warmed.

When we are falling asleep at the wheel of life, heart focus seems to be the first thing to go. We start to glance at God and gaze at other things-distractions, lusts, self-pursuits…it can be anything. No matter-the point is getting back to alert expectancy.

With alert and expectant hearts – we are never left feeling like the victim, unfairly treated, short-changed. As the alertness begins to return; we truly do realize (even though it may be for the tenth time) how ‘all things work together for the good.

We can even; like Jeremiah in Lamentations proclaim again, ‘the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end-they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness!’ Jeremiah had just interrupted himself in the midst of a long litany of things to be ‘lamented’. He was suddenly awakened to the truth behind what appeared to be hopeless. He was in alert expectancy – I pray to be there as well.

At this place, there really aren’t enough containers to hold everything God desires to generously (not begrudgingly) pour into our lives. He doesn’t even bring up what got us off track-He simply; daily expresses how thrilled He is that we are again living in ‘alert expectancy.’ It is also here that our capacity is strengthened and His joy is more fulfilled in us. In ‘alert expectancy’, you throw out the welcome mat of your heart to Jesus!

In the grip of Papa’s 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.

“Christ is King, but life’s still hard.”

Monday, November 9th, 2015

flower“Christ is King, but life’s still hard.”

I looked at his lined, weathered face and thought I’d rarely heard a better seven-word sermon. I also thought I likely had no idea what “hard” meant in his world.

It’s easy to discover the truth of either half of my friend’s statement. When the sun shines and all the traffic lights are green, it’s easy to count our blessings and praise God. When everything’s going great, praise songs and “Christ is King!” seem like the most natural thing in the world.

But imagine my friend, trying to peer over the edge of addiction, clinging by his fingernails and hoping he won’t slip back into the abyss. When you’re a few months from desperation, “Life’s still hard” makes complete sense.

The simple, difficult reality: like my friend, we live in the tension between these two realities. I think we miss something whenever we lose sight of either side.

I hope I’ll  stop in the midst of trial or pain to remind myself: Christ is indeed King. I don’t advocate platitudes in place of love and empathy, but I also don’t want to forget that Jesus walks with me in times of trial.

On the other hand, we can get so focused on worship that we discount the hard realities faced by others. Jesus spent much of His time comforting those folks, and reminded us that in this world we would have our share of trouble.

Life’s still hard. We face the hardship with hope because Christ is King.

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 Will You Go for Help?

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

My late son’s birthday is this week. He enjoyed Chinese food, and I usually eat it at his favorite restaurant on his birthday. A social event postponed that tradition, but it hasn’t cancelled it.

The past week I spoke in Pennsylvania. I stayed with a widow, and we exchanged memories of our loved ones. We even laughed.

For example, I told her about my climb up a water slide because I didn’t want my four-year-old son to suspect my fear of the water. When I hesitated at the top of the slide, he pushed me down. The lifeguard blew the whistle on him and warned him if he did that again, he would have to leave the pool. I was safe, and that lifeguard became my friend.

The widow shared how her husband bought her a gift certificate for a day at the spa of a luxurious hotel every year. She still hadn’t used the last gift certificate he gave her six years ago before his death. They had always gone together. I suggested she invite her daughter to go with her, as I invite a friend to go with me to the Chinese restaurant.

As we talked, I realized we had walked the healing journey the past six years. Tears will come at unexpected moments, but we could focus on the good times.

God makes the journey through grief possible. Will you give him your struggles, heartaches, and losses?

For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. Psalm 116:8

Dear God, help me through death, tears and stumbling. Amen.

 

Application: What will you do this week to allow God to deliver you?

 

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

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

God is Not Defeated!

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth! Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might! 1 Chronicles 29:11-12


In these days of man-centered religion, verses like these have been ignored. The pulpits of our land preach…
a defeated God,
a disappointed Christ and
a defenseless Holy Spirit.”determinate counsel and foreknowledge”
Man has been deified–and God dethroned.
God has been relegated to the background.

The God most people believe in has benevolent intentions, yet He is unable to carry them out. He wants to bless men, but they will not let Him. The average church-goer thinks Satan has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than worshiped. The god of popular Christianity has a weak smile and a halo!

To suppose in the slightest that God has failed, or that He has been defeated, is the height of foolishness and the depth of impiety! The religious world needs to get God off the charity list!

The Bible knows nothing of a defeated, disappointed, and defenseless God. The God of the Bible is the “Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1) Who has all power in Heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). With Him nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37) or too hard (Jeremiah 32:17). His eternal purpose is being worked out. Everything is going according to His plan, and all things are under His control.

The God of the Bible is the Supreme Being in the universe! He is the most High, higher than the highest. He has no superiors and no equals. 
God is God.
He does
as
He pleases,
only as He pleases,
always as He pleases.

He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? What His soul desires, even that He does” (Job 23:13).

Agreeing with this is Psalm 115:3: “But our God is in the heavens: He has done whatever He has pleased.” As the Master of the World He declares: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!” (Isaiah 46:10)

God is the Supreme Being and the Sovereign of the universe. He exercises His power . . .
as He wills,
when He wills,
where He wills.

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. But He does according to His will in the host of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth. No one can ward off His hand or say to Him: What have You done? (Daniel 4:35)

God governs all His creatures and their actions. The events that take place on earth do not take place by chance, or fate, or luck. The so-called accidents are not even incidents with the Master of the World. He numbered the hairs of our head and noted the sparrow’s fall in eternity past by His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23).

The Master of the World set the bounds of our habitation on earth. The number of our months is with Him, and our days are appointed!

God is holding the helm of the universe, and regulating all events. The Master of the World “works all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11). It is God’s eternal right to do all His pleasure. He is not accountable to any of His creatures. Job 33:13 declares: “He gives no account of any of His matters.”

God controls all things–or nothing.
He must either rule–or be ruled.
He must either sway–or be swayed.
He must either accomplish His will–or be thwarted by His creatures.
He is not obligated to leave the affairs of this world to be governed by accident, chance, or the will of sinful men.

If we admit that God absolutely governs all things according to the counsel of His own will, then we admit that He has determined what shall and what shall not transpire in time and eternity. To deny His universal control of all things, is to deny His eternal power and Godhead. If He has the power and wisdom to determine all events–then He can cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
~Milburn Cockrell, “The Master of the World!

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!

Feeling Overwhelmed or Downcast?

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Are you feeling overwhelmed or downcast? Is the drama of those around you drowning out your own? Do you feel that the narrative of your life story is unfair and unheard? If you are anything like me, many voices; both good and bad are screaming for your attention. Is your worldview and system of belief causing you to interpret your reality through the lens of hopelessness? Sounds; well… kind of desperate! Are you listening? Because I have good news for you!

The entire revealed history of God’s love affair with his people has carefully and patiently waited for this moment in your life! This is the moment you are awakened to his message. The sum total of your life experiences has prepared you to receive his great news.

This may sound strange at first…but let it sink in, all the way from your mind to your heart. God loves you prophetically! Wow! What in the world does that mean or have to do with my present reality? It means that God wants to make his own thoughts about you known to you! Here are two examples among many…

17 God, your thoughts about me are priceless.
No one can possibly add them all up.
18 If I could count them,
they would be more than the grains of sand.
If I were to fall asleep counting and then wake up,
you would still be there with me. Psalm 139:17-18, NIRV

“11For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.
13 If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.
14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD. Jeremiah 29:11-14a, NLT

Armed with the assurance of God’s constant attention literally fixed on us, what will our response look like? We are invited to come boldly to Father’s Throne of Grace; throwing our entire history, present reality/needs, and future hopes, humbly into the Mercy and Love of Father. He resists the proud while overwhelming the humble with a daily baptism of his great love and all that it brings to our aide. Following is his (Prophetic Love) word to us at the start of each new day.

Today is the day of Salvation! Today, if you hear my voice of fresh revelation, dive heart-first into the oceans of my power and provision. I am bound by my own love to speak GOOD NEWS into your heart continuously.

“My word takes over the action; what I spoke to you in the incarnation,
My final Word through Jesus; radiating my image and likeness, powerfully impacts
Your whole being; body, soul and spirit are impacted by what He-Jesus speaks and it becomes a living and
Powerful influence in you, cutting like a doctor’s scalpel, sharper than a
Soldier’s sword, piercing to the deepest core of your human conscience, to the
Division of soul and spirit, ending the dominance of the sense realm of the
Soul and its neutralizing effect upon the human spirit; thus freeing the spirit
To be the ruling influence again in the thoughts and intentions of your heart”
(A paraphrased Mirror Word version of Hebrews 1:1-3 and 4:2)

Tuned in to the voice of hope!

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.

Are You at the End of Your Rope?

Monday, July 20th, 2015

“But I need something more! I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I am at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?” Romans 7:17a and 24, (Msg)

Can you identify with Paul’s gut wrenching cry? I can!

Does the power of sin and unhealed or unresolved issues ever seem to sabotage your best intentions? More often than I like to admit, they do for me. Any real or honest follower of the Grace Message of Jesus Christ will readily admit to Paul’s dilemma. For me, the very things I truly think are behind me, often jump up, seemingly out of nowhere, and bite my religious butt.

Before we can get a hopeful answer to this predicament; we first have to arrive at the door of giving up! Just like Paul; who remember, had a religious pedigree as long and impressive as the State of Texas is wide- we too must exhaust all of our personal resources. Our complete heart orientation and mindset has to land squarely where Paul’s did.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, KJV)

The answer to this is in the giving up-truly coming to the end of our rope. ‘There is none perfect, no not one!’ “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled be the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (Romans 7:25, Msg)

Jesus is the something more! Total and constant surrender and trustful reliance upon Him, is always the answer. The only way that any moment of any day (even the best or worse of days) can be pregnant with hope, is because of our moment by moment total reliance on Him alone.

It will never be because we finally have a perfect score or day-we finally get it right…no, we must always let go of our rope and grab onto (by a sheer act of risky faith) the resurrection power and Grace of Jesus Christ. Something and Someone more loves you and me, even in our frailty and weakness. We cannot do anything in our own good intentions. But, we can do all things through Him who loved us!

The question never changes; it’s not can I please others, myself and Jesus? It’s do I truly believe the following confession of faith? 13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Phil. 4:13, Amp.)

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.

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
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