Archive for the ‘Step 11’ Category

The Holy Spirit isn’t a bureaucrat

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

A dramatic conversion brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

BUREAUCRAT

The Holy Spirit isn’t a bureaucrat.

That may be the strangest statement you’ve ever read, but think for a moment about how we expect God to operate. How often have we heard It’s not fair? Even when we know better, don’t we think some folks–mass murderers, terrorists, child molesters–are just plain worse sinners than others?

Don’t we make rules? This is how you get baptized. This is how you become a member. These are the qualifications to be a preacher. You need to do ___ before you can do ___.

That’s bureaucracy. Not saying it’s bad, just calling it what it is. And saying the Holy Spirit sometimes steps outside our lines.

Saul was a terrorist, a mass murderer, the worst of the worst when it came to persecuting the early church. We would expect God to strike down this terrible enemy.

Instead, He chooses this Saul, this terrorist, to become His chosen Apostle to the gentiles. Saul becomes Paul, plants churches all over the known world, and writes nearly half of the New Testament.

It makes no sense, if you’re a bureaucrat. The Holy Spirit isn’t a bureaucrat.

The Holy Spirit sees each heart as an individual, special person formed in God’s image. He sees each of us for what we can become, not for what we’ve been or what we’ve done.

Bureaucrats categorize people based on external factors. Next time I’m tempted to do that I hope I’ll remember that God’s Kingdom isn’t a bureaucracy. God makes plans that don’t make sense.

God’s Spirit calls each of us to something special based on potential, not past. Might be a good week to listen and start moving.

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

His Compassions are New Every Morning

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed,
because His [tender] compassions fail not.  Lamentations 3:24 AMP

Each Christian may find in his own case, some peculiar token of God’s providential kindness to him. It is in the details of each man’s personal history that we find the most touching manifestations of God’s providential care. None of us can refuse to acknowledge that we have been the objects of a watchfulness which has never slumbered, and of a benevolence which has never been weary in doing us good.

Were we to attempt an enumeration of all the . . .
blessings which we have received at God’s hand,
deliverances which He has wrought out for us,
snares from which He has preserved us,
manifestations of His long-suffering patience, and tender mercy, of which we ourselves have been the objects–were we to begin with the years of infancy and helplessness, and to trace our progress through the slippery paths of youth, until we reached our present state–we would soon find how impossible it is to reckon up the sum of our innumerable obligations to “the loving-kindness of the Lord.”

For not only has God spared us in life, and upheld us from day to day, by His almighty power; not only has He given us our daily bread, and made our cup to run over–and that, too, notwithstanding all the ingratitude which we have displayed, and the manifold provocations which we have offered; but, in peculiar seasons, in seasons of difficulty and trial–He has often delivered . . .
our eyes from tears,
and our feet from falling,
and our souls from death!

And as often as we have cried to the Lord in our trouble, He has delivered us from our distresses–or supported and comforted us under them. So that each of His redeemed people, on a review of God’s dealings with Him, will be forced to exclaim:
“The Lord has been my Shepherd!”
“I have not lacked any good thing!”
“Hitherto has the Lord helped me!”
“The Lord has done all things well!”
“Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life!”

~ James Buchanan, “Comfort in Affliction” 1837

Jesus isn’t a weapon

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Today’s word-of-the-week:   WEAPON

Jesus isn’t a weapon.

He didn’t show up to give you and me the trump card in an argument. He didn’t give His life so I could make someone feel guilty for what I perceive as a lack of generosity. He didn’t offer His stories, or His life, as weapons to be deployed in a cultural war of words.

In case you haven’t noticed, the tactic of hitting people over the head with Jesus doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because only the Holy Spirit change a heart.

Violence, physical or emotional, in the name of peace is irrational.

I can be as sarcastic as anyone, and I’ll admit to having a bit of fun with some of the late-night comedy and the Facebook memes. I want to say it’s just a joke, but perhaps I’m really trying to look a bit superior. Maybe I’m only assigning myself to a slightly better class of sinner than those people.

I seem to recall something about getting the 2×4 out of my own eye before I correct another’s vision.

Jesus doesn’t want another culture war of words. He doesn’t want any war at all. Remember that “Prince of Peace” thing?

So I ask His forgiveness, and yours as well, if I’ve used Him as a weapon.

It’s Monday. Might be a good day to get on with the work in front of us.

Who Is This Guy?

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

I take inspiration where I find it.

One of my all-time favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Mega-famous actors, cowboys, chase scenes, romance, drama, great music, even an iconic bicycle encounter with an angry bull…what’s not to love about a film in which Butch concludes another caper with the line, “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Sadly, these likable heroes are also bank robbers who eventually become targets of a dedicated, relentless posse. Despite their best efforts, Butch and Sundance simply can’t shake them. At what turns out to be a turning point in the story, Butch exclaims, “Who ARE those guys?”

Jesus’ disciples said something similar during a violent storm. Their boat was about to sink. They looked around and saw Jesus, head on a pillow, sleeping peacefully.

They woke Him and shouted, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

The bible says Jesus rebuked the storm and everything immediately calmed down. I imagine Him standing, stretching, and looking around at their frightened faces, wondering if they would ever get it.

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

And just like Butch Cassidy, the disciples asked, “Who is this guy?” (They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:41)

Jesus is pretty hard on His friends. In other translations He asks, “Why are you such cowards?”

What’s He saying…to them, and to us?

I think it’s important to take Jesus’ two questions together. He’s telling them they don’t need to be controlled by their fear because He’s with them.

And, to reinforce the point, He demonstrates His power. Even the mighty storm can’t withstand Jesus’ words.

Who Is This Guy?

I don’t think it’s a question for an old film or an ancient bible story.

I think it’s a question we must ask every day.

Is He asleep? Doesn’t He care?

Doesn’t He see the injustice, the abused children? Doesn’t He care about the violent storms that threaten to overwhelm us?

I believe He’s awake. I believe He cares deeply, just as He cared that day on the lake. I believe He wants us, you and me, to trust, to do our best not to live in fear.

And I don’t know how to do that, not really. Except He promised He’d walk with us, you and me, and help if we ask.

I think the best we can do is try to understand a little more each day Who Is This Guy who calms the storm and holds me in the hollow of His hand.

That, and follow Him.

CIR Members can share their thoughts regarding this blog HERE
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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

Do You Make Things Complicated?

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Recent experience has me re-visiting a previous word-of-the week…

SIMPLE

What Jesus asked of us is simple.

I need to remember that today. Maybe you do too.

He asked us to love with no strings. Sacrificially. Love God. Love others. Love ourselves.

That’s it.

Of course, it’s not easy. Or safe. Or cheap.

But when we make it complicated, when we act like you can’t be involved without some sort of advanced training, we need to stop.

Following Jesus might be the hardest thing in the world, but it’s simple.

Love. God. Others. Self.

It’s Monday! Maybe it’s a good week to give yourself a break. Don’t make it so complicated.

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

Are You Real Or A Poser?

Monday, April 11th, 2016

POSEREver hear the term “poser”?

Occasionally you’ll see someone with a $10,000 bike, outfitted head-to-toe in the latest gear, with almost no wear-and tear on their equipment and little desire to climb even the smallest hill. They look the part, but apparently the fancy getup is all for show. They want to fit in, look the part, without doing the work and making the sacrifice.

In Acts 5 members of the early church community generously sold possessions and donated the proceeds to those in need, not out of obligation but a spirit of love and concern. That’s important–this donating wasn’t required.

Ananias and Sapphira sold a field and made a donation. All good, except they lied. They kept part of the proceeds but told everyone, including God, they’d donated the entire amount. As punishment, they died.

It’s a tough story, but let’s not lose the lesson.

Don’t Be A Poser

Ananias and Sapphira didn’t have to donate anything. They didn’t even have to sell their field. But they wanted to impress, to appear more generous than they were.

God doesn’t want us to be posers. Jesus came to relieve us of the burden of trying to be someone we can’t be anyway. He told us we’re free.

God’s likely not going to strike us down for posing, but we pay in other ways. Hiding behind made-up identities, creating masks that allow us to fake it and pretend we’re someone we’re not, all that is a lot of work that keeps people away.

It goes both ways. If we really want others to be vulnerable and authentic, we need to stop judging, condemning, and categorizing. Every time we draw a line and decide that sin is unacceptable we encourage someone to become a poser.

That’s not biblical, and it’s not what God wants.

The notion of a poser-free community is a bit scary for most of us. It takes courage to truly encounter people where they are, free of expectations.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do it alone.

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

Comfort Isn’t a Solution

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A thought-provoking quote brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

COMFORT

“Comfort isn’t a solution.”

Take a minute and think about that statement. It’s a truth that turns a lot of our instincts on their heads.

We all know not to simply put a band-aid on even a small infected wound. First you clean and perhaps apply disinfectant, even if it stings. Covering it might be more comfortable now, but you risk bigger problems later.

Comfort doesn’t solve the problem.

Confronting nearly any problem is a lot like that small wound. Confronting it almost always involves some discomfort. Ignoring, soothing, and avoiding simply prolong the issue and usually risk greater deferred pain.

This doesn’t mean we can’t show compassion. It’s possible to acknowledge and deal with pain with empathy and love. But “it’s going-to-be-okay” responses to difficult challenges don’t help anyone.

As I pondered this quote I thought about Jesus. He had the power to comfort the people He loved so deeply, but He didn’t. He asked them to confront the very difficult and painful circumstances of their lives with courage and integrity. He knew they would struggle, but He also knew where the path would lead. And He knew they wouldn’t be alone.

Slapping a band-aid on humanity’s problems wasn’t God’s plan. He sent Jesus to clean and disinfect our wounds, except He took on all the pain.

I’m learning to back away from my endless search for comfort. It’s not about seeking pain, it’s about not avoiding its lessons when it inevitably appears.

How can you show compassion without using comfort to avoid the issues you’ll face?

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

REALLY ?

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Our small group brings us today’s word-of-the-week…

REALLY?

“Do you really believe that? Really?”

In Acts 3, Peter tells a 40-year old man who’s been crippled since birth to walk in the name of Jesus. He takes the man’s hand and, just like that, the guy walks, leaps, and dances.

Our small group discussed this miracle. Peter stepped forward courageously, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We had a great conversation. Then I thought I’d up the ante a bit.

“I’ve been in a wheelchair with a spinal cord injury for 28 years. Who here believes that God could heal me–right here, right now–and I could stand, walk, leap, and dance?”

A couple of hands shot up immediately, then others followed. And then we talked, about the medical realities, the science, what we know. And we asked ourselves Do we really believe this could happen, right here in front of us? Really?

We believe what’s impossible, what can’t happen. That’s why it’s called faith. And still we say, “I believe, but…”

Do we really believe what we believe?

It’s Monday. And it’s okay to doubt. Really.

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

Why Are We Standing Around?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

cloudsSometimes an event in the bible just makes me laugh.

In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus gives His friends some final instructions before He leaves in a remarkable manner.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)

I’m thinking, “Well, it’s not every day we see someone float into the clouds. What if He falls? Is something else going to happen?”

And here are these two white-robed guys telling me Stop staring into the sky. Show’s over. Time to get going.

That’s really a pretty good summary of the message, isn’t it?

Jesus will be back when God decides it’s time. Until then, we shouldn’t be staring at the sky, because He left us stuff to do.

Time to get going.

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

When We Try To Be God

Friday, March 18th, 2016

graceYou and I would never try to take God’s place, right?

Except I’ve noticed I do it a lot, and I suspect I’m not alone. It’s not on purpose–I don’t have a throne in my back yard or anything like that.

It happened most recently when a friend got in some trouble and I wanted very much to fix him, heal him, and save him from his own bad choices. After wrestling with myself for a few days I realized I was stepping into a role for which I wasn’t designed.

Jesus asked us to love each other, and ourselves. He never said anything about saving or fixing.

That’s His job.

I’m realizing that love, without the saving or fixing part, makes it easier to hold myself, my loved ones, my relationships–in open hands. Love says I care sacrificially, but I trust God for the outcome.

A guy asked me in class last week how I learned to trust so much. I laughed, because mostly I’ve only learned to write and talk easily about trusting. I struggle to release the illusion of control that comes with playing God.

I’m trying to pry open those hands, and I hope you’ll join me. We can change the world, the people in it, and ourselves, if we stop trying to fix it or save it.

We can change the world with our love.

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