Archive for the ‘Step 11’ Category

Two Wolves

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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Godly Exercise

Monday, January 16th, 2017

“He delighteth not in the strength of the horse:
he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.
The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him,
in those that hope in his mercy.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem;
praise thy God, O Zion.” Psalm 147: 10-12 KJV

When Jesus says that He takes pleasure in those that fear Him, He is not saying that He wants us to be afraid of Him. Webster’s Dictionary gives us an excellent definition of what fear means in this Scripture verse. One of the definitions for the word fear that applies to this verse in the dictionary is “to have a reverential awe of.” We shouldn’t be afraid of Him. We should treat Him with the respect, honor and dignity that He deserves.

We read in 1 Timothy 4: 8 “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” There are people who spend hours doing exercises at home and even go to the gym and to health clubs to get exercise. Yet, these same people might spend twenty or thirty minutes a day reading their Bibles. How this must hurt the heart of our loving Heavenly Father.

It is true that we are to take care of our bodies, but if we put physical exercise before godly exercise, then our exercises have become a god to us. Parents think nothing about spending a lot of money to train their children for the Olympics or on uniforms and equipment for different sports activities; however some of these same parents won’t give money to their children so that their children can serve Jesus as a missionary or evangelist.

It is time that we get our priorities in order. How much money are you spending on sports activities for your children and how much money are you spending on things that will help your children for all eternity? Are you teaching your children that godly exercise is more important than physical exercise? You may tell them that godly exercise is more important but if they see you spending a lot of time doing exercises at home and then going to the gym and health clubs to exercise, they are not going to believe you. Let’s set a godly example for our children.

Copyright by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

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Life’s Surprises and Interruptions

Monday, January 9th, 2017

For if you remain completely silent at this time,
relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place,
but you and your father?s house will perish.
Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom
for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)


What a week this has been! On Friday my almost 87-year-old mother (who lives with us) became extremely ill, and I had to call for an ambulance. The next few days were split between going back and forth to the hospital, and trying to put out fires here at home. In the midst of it all, my computer died. When I called my trusty computer guy, he was unable to work on it for a couple of days. (As you can see, it has since been fixed, with no loss of data?thank You, Lord!) And Mom is home from the hospital, a bit weaker from the experience, but doing well.

That’s part of life, isn’t it? Being an “order freak,” I really don’t like surprises or interruptions to my planned-out days. But they happen, and will continue to do so as long as we walk on this earth. The important thing is how we handle those surprises and interruptions, and who gets to call the shots and order our steps throughout those days on earth.

Esther learned that lesson the hard way. Though undoubtedly not by choice, she was queen to a pagan king. As such, she lived in luxury and ease, though not without personal sacrifice. Having been raised by a faithful Jew, her uncle Mordecai, it must have been painful for her to share her life with one who didn’t share her faith; not to mention the fact that she had to keep her Jewish heritage and faith a secret if she wanted to preserve her life and position.

Then came the big interruption. Due to the scheming of the evil Haman, the king ordered that all Jews be killed. Mordecai encouraged Esther to use her position to influence the king to find a way to save the Jewish people, but Esther responded that she could be killed if she went to the king with such a request.

Mordecai wisely told her that if she ignored her duty to try to save her people simply because she didn?t want to lose her own life, she and her family would die anyway, since sooner or later her Jewish heritage would be discovered. Then he made one of the most profound observations ever recorded: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom
for such a time as this?”

We Christians like to think we know why we’re here; what our purpose and calling is. Are we writers? Our purpose must be to write. Are we singers? We must sing. Are we teachers? We shall teach. But what if our writing or singing or teaching is interrupted with a chance to do something bigger; something obviously ordered by God and yet which may cost us our very lives?

Missionary Jim Elliot, who was killed in 1956 while attempting to evangelize the Waodani people through efforts known as Operation Auca, once said that he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Esther would have been a fool to try to preserve her own life, rather than risk it in an attempt to save the lives of God?s chosen people. As it turned out, she was successful in saving the Jews, including herself. Why? Because she recognized and responded to the interruption in her life that summarized her reason for having been placed on this earth in the first place.

God created each of us with a purpose, and though we may think we know what that purpose is, in reality we may not have a clue until it sideswipes us, jolting us from our pre-planned, orderly existence with a call to lay down our lives in service to God and others. Will we respond? Or will we be so foolish as to try to hold on to that which cannot be preserved, rather than relinquishing it to gain that which cannot be lost?

Esther understood that great truth, as did Jim Elliot. May we willingly and joyfully walk in it as well?

MaciasCopyright Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored seventeen books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

The Power of Gratitude

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Ephesians 5:20

~ ~ ~ ~

One day, Johann Tauler of Strosbourg met a peasant and greeted him, “God give you a good day, my friend!”

The peasant answered briskly, “I thank God that I never have a bad day!”

Tauler, astonished, kept silent for a moment. Tauler then added, “God give you a happy life, my friend.”

The peasant replied composedly, “I thank God that I am never unhappy!”

“Never unhappy!” cried Tauler bewildered, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” came the reply, “When it is sunshine–I thank God; and when it rains–I thank God. When I have plenty–I thank God; and when I am hungry–I thank God. Since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me–I am never unhappy.”

Tauler looked upon him with awe. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am a king!” said the peasant.

“A king?” Tauler asked, “Where is your kingdom?”

The peasant smiled and whispered softly, “In my heart!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Thank you consists of just eight letters that form two of the most meaningful words in the English vocabulary.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Counting up our mercies and our every-day reasons for gratitude, looking at the hundred little things and large things–we do not know where to end the list. The only thing to do, is to live always in an atmosphere sweet and vital with thanksgiving!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Be thankful for the small things–the trivial things and the mundane things!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness–he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Have an attitude of gratitude. Don’t wait till Thanksgiving.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Everything short of Hell is mercy!”

~ ~ ~ ~

“God is glorified, not by our complainings, but by our thanksgivings.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“We can always find something to be thankful for. There are reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“A cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15

“Be thankful to Him, and bless His name!” Psalm 100:4

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What About That Setback?

Friday, November 18th, 2016

bumpA friend experienced a setback.

A “speed bump” is how he described it. I’d say it was more like a major detour, but either way, things aren’t exactly going his way right now. This is a guy who’s had his share of struggle along the road, and things were starting to look a bit brighter. This particular speed bump wasn’t part of the plan.

So what do you say? What’s useful, helpful, to someone in a circumstance like this?

First, let’s hold off on the Christian one-liners. It’s God’s plan. Everything happens for a reason. God will use this for good. Even if you believe something like this, it’s simply not helpful to toss a simplistic conclusion into a complex, painful situation. Mostly these are designed to make the speaker feel better; they’re not going to help someone who’s already experiencing confusion and doubt. Let go of your need to offer an easy answer that likely doesn’t exist.

It’s okay to feel angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Following Jesus doesn’t mean pasting a permanent fake smile on your face. When you acknowledge and accept your feelings, you don’t have to be controlled by them.

Want to help? Offer a safe space for her to express these perfectly normal emotions.

Hope is a decision, not a feeling. Hope is confidence in the future based on faith that God keeps His promises. It’s possible to choose hope and feel hopeless…I don’t know how that works, but I’ve been there. You can decide to choose hope, and hold on no matter how you feel.

Want to help? Continue to talk about hope while showing you understand how hopeless it feels.

You are not your circumstances. I am not a wheelchair. My friend is not his “setback.” That’s not how God sees us. We’re defined by how He sees us through Jesus.

Want to help? Show (don’t tell) him that he’s valued as a person beyond his circumstances. The show part is, by the way, hard.

God is long-term. Hope is long-term. Love is long-term. Most of the stuff we focus on…isn’t.

Want to help? Hang around long-term. Do long-term stuff, the things most others won’t do because it’s frustrating and they don’t see results and often they’re not even appreciated.

Hang around when the short-term folks lose patience. Don’t judge them.

That’s what Jesus does.

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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

Love isn’t a feeling

Friday, October 21st, 2016

A conversation from a long time ago prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

FEELING

thing-called-love“Love isn’t a feeling.”

My friend looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars. “Of course love is a feeling. When you fall in love, it’s the greatest feeling in the world!”

“And then you fall out of love and it’s the most horrible feeling in the world, right?” She nodded.

“And you always fall out of love, because that mushy-gushy feeling doesn’t last.

“Real love, the kind of love you can count on, is a decision.”

We had a long discussion that evening. My friend never gave up; it was years later that she quietly told me, a bit sadly, “I think you were right. Love is a decision.”

I’m reminded of this old conversation because a guy told me recently that his faith didn’t feel very strong. He wondered if something was wrong.

“Nothing’s wrong,” I assured him. “Feelings come and go. They are what they are. But…

“Faith isn’t a feeling. Real faith is a decision.”

Feelings matter. A lot. It’s good to understand, talk about, and share your feelings with God. But we need to keep them in their proper place.

Jesus said, “Take courage. I AM. Don’t be afraid.”

He wasn’t telling us to deny normal, natural feelings of fear. Everyone feels afraid at times. He asked us to decide, to choose not to be controlled by those feelings. And to assist, He placed Himself, I AM, in the center.

Don’t feel like forgiving? That’s likely pretty normal, but authentic forgiveness is a conscious decision. I choose to forgive despite my feelings, and when I slide into a desire for vengeance I lean on grace and forgive again.

Most of following Jesus isn’t nice, flowery, gooey feelings. It’s simple obedience and basic daily choices and messing up and starting again.

That’s all Jesus did, except for the messing up part. It’s what He asked of his friends.

And us.

What simple choices can you reaffirm? Might be a good week to accept your feelings without allowing them to take over. 

What Is Your Gift?

Friday, July 1st, 2016

“I don’t have anything to offer,” Beth told the group of women at a social gathering in my home.

I couldn’t believe what she said. She was an excellent cook and baker. She could turn ground chicken into a gourmet meal. I said nothing but waited to see what the other women would say.

“I don’t either,” Jennifer said. “I never went to college.”

She blushed and looked at the floor as she said that.

As if a college degree determined what one could offer. Jesus and his apostles changed the world without one.

Holly chimed in and said, “I’m too young. No one will listen to me.”

Look at what Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Angie said, “At least you’re young and can look forward to making a contribution to society.” She paused, scanned the group, and said, “I’m too old. It’s too late for me.”

At age 66, Kay Coles James serves on the NASA Advisory Council and is the founder and president of the Gloucester Institute, a leadership-training center for young African Americans. At age 72, Joyce Meyer speaks, writes, and travels. In her early 80s, Kay Arthur does too.

Can you identify with Beth, Jennifer, Holly, or Angie? Have you said something similar? Perhaps you’ve given a different excuse. I call it an excuse because of what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:7: “Each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”

Add to the list 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

If those two verses aren’t enough, look at Romans 11:29: “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Get going. Use the gift you have.

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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
“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

Are Assumptions Being Made?

Monday, June 27th, 2016

ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions people make about you, your story, and your experiences disclose a great deal.

They disclose a great deal about the person making the assumptions, and you may wish to pay attention to what that person is telling you about himself.

But those assumptions disclose nothing about you.

We spend far too much time and energy trying to meet or refute assumptions made by others. Wasted time, wasted energy.

Your identity, my identity, they’re based on what God sees through Jesus. A person worthy of love, worthy of a second chance.

A person worthy of Jesus and His sacrifice.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That’s the assumption God made about you, and me.

It’s Monday. Might be a good day to stop listening to the assumptions made by others and start listening to those made by God.

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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

Why We Need To STOP

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

stopI’ve been thinking a lot about STOP.

That’s odd for me. I want to focus on moving forward, dreaming big dreams, taking risks. And lately, for some reason I don’t understand, I seem to hear STOP.

I don’t think it’s about the big things. So I’ve wondered about STOP as it relates to the ordinary, everyday stuff. I think I might have noticed something interesting.

STOP is nearly always useful advice when I’m uncertain.

Are you lost? STOP. Don’t keep wandering, compounding the problem. Get your bearings. Ask for help. (Hint: Works for more than driving.)

Not sure about that next sentence? STOP. Let it breathe. You won’t have to try to take back words you don’t say.

Someone pressuring you? STOP. Take a step back. Look at the big picture. Make a phone call if necessary.

Tempted to live in fear? STOP. Ask yourself if the message aligns with your trust in God. (Hint: If it’s about living in fear, it’s not about God.)

Was somebody nasty on the Internet? STOP. If it rises to the level of bullying or threats, report it. Otherwise, move on. Don’t give trolls your time and energy.

Someone using a bible verse out of context to “prove a point”? STOP. You know that’s a trick. You don’t have to react. Best response: “I’d like some time to research that verse.”

Wonder where God went? STOP. If you need to talk, or cry, or scream, go ahead. STOP. As often as it takes and as long as it takes.

Absolutely sure you know what’s best for someone else? STOP. You probably don’t, and even if you do you’re not going to be helpful by telling someone else how to live her life. The best you can do is listen and be a friend. It’s a lot harder than giving advice.

There’s one time I won’t stop, at least on purpose.

Whatever I’m doing, moving or not, I want to always follow Jesus.

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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

Want to try an experiment?

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Today’s word-of-the-week…

SPACE

Gratitude occupies a lot of space.

Gratitude crowds out most other emotions. When you focus on the things for which you’re thankful, it’s difficult to find space for things like anger, hate, competitiveness, or greed.

Want to try an experiment? Next time you’re feeling resentful or bitter, don’t try to “shut off” the negative emotions with willpower. Instead, turn your attention to a gratitude list. I’ll bet you’ll find that thankfulness expands until there’s not much space for the negative emotions.

This isn’t some magical, new age trick. When we express gratitude we’re aligning with God’s will. We’re doing life the way it was designed.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Our hearts were shaped for thankfulness. I think that’s why they conform so naturally to it.

So many opportunities right now to be angry, to be fearful. So many opportunities to hate, to divide. And maybe it’s just me, but willpower alone isn’t enough to keep those enemy emotions at bay.

I’m grateful for so much. I’m especially grateful for the space occupied by gratitude.

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