Archive for the ‘Step 11’ Category

In Search of Rest?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

“But the dove could find no resting place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth. So it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.” Genesis 8:9

This passage has been beautifully applied to the condition of a Christian wandering over earth in search of rest–and disappointed, returning at length to his Savior–glad to be received again into His bosom, where alone there is peace. Surely he who has been accustomed to drink at the pure fountain of spiritual joy, can never find rest for the soul in this polluted world.

How true is it, that to one whose affections have been directed to things above–earthly pleasures seem to have lost their usual relish. No prospect however beautiful–no pleasures however tantalizing can be enjoyed–without the associated presence and blessing of God. Yet when God is recognized in them, and the heart is properly affected towards Him–then do even earthly scenes acquire an additional interest.

But let the Christian lose sight for a season of his heavenly inheritance, and wander over earth’s surface in search of worldly good–how soon will he find an unsatisfying vacuity, where not even an olive leaf shall be found to greet his eye or to cheer his heart. The Christian may so far backslide, as to wish to explore anew the world which he professes to have forsaken–and God may allow him to do so. But O how soon his wing will tire, and his prospect become gloomy! Glad will he be to return and flutter around the ark, longing to be taken in, where he can once more feel himself happy and at home. And Jesus kindly extends His hand to take us in–even when we have sinfully wandered from His loving arms.

Why is it that we can be so often deceived? Have we not tried the world–and have we not been disappointed in the pursuit? Never again then let us leave the sacred ark–never again wander from our Lord.

PRAYER.
Ever blessed God, You have taught us to find our supreme felicity in You–for You are an all-sufficient portion. But O how prone are we to wander from You–to forsake “You, the fountain of living waters, and hew out cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

But away from You, how can we he happy? How soon does sadness invade our hearts, and sorrow sit upon our eye-lids! The creature cannot make us blessed. We have tried the creature–and found all on earth to be but vanity. Wander where we will–from place to place, from pleasure to pleasure–all is unsatisfying, if you O God are absent.

We are like that dove, when out of the ark, which saw itself surrounded by one wide waste of waters. How glad was she to get back within her sacred retreat! Just so, O Savior, would we gladly flee into Your loving arms. We will search no longer for happiness here below. Henceforth, let us repose on Your kind bosom. Let us feel a holy indifference to the attractions of this deceitful world. May it be our privilege to be taken at last unto that secure ark–that glorious Heaven where no storms can come, and no temptations allure our souls away from you. Amen.

(Jared Waterbury, “Meditations and Prayers” 1840)

Take Courage!

Friday, March 11th, 2016

A frustrating truth prompts today’s word-of-the-week…

SERIES


The important matters in life are a series of repeated choices.

We don’t choose to love someone and then forget it. We must repeat the choice over and over, because loving is difficult, we change, and people change.

We may forgive a horrible wrong, but we’ll likely need to forgive it again and again, perhaps daily, perhaps even hourly.

It’s easy to get discouraged. I already chose not to be controlled by that fear yesterday, and it’s back today. But that’s how it works, I think.

A series of repeated choices.

The good news is that things like love, forgiveness, and courage can become habits. If we train for them, practice them, they can get a bit easier. But in the really tough times we still have to choose them, day by day.

The REALLY good news, though, is that we’re not in it alone.

Take Courage. I Am. Don’t Be Afraid.

Jesus, I Am, puts Himself in the middle of the struggle, between the courage and the fear. I get to lean on Him.

When I mess up, that’s good to remember.

What repeated choice would you like to begin making?

Where Did They (We) Go Wrong?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. (Matthew 22:15)

It’s not an isolated incident. Religious leaders were always seeking opportunities to twist Jesus’ words, catch Him breaking a rule–anything to discredit Him and diminish His increasing influence among the people. We’ve read the stories so often, maybe we take them for granted.three four

The religious leaders are the bad guys, right? Except, they’re not. Not really. The Pharisees were folks who tried really hard to get it right, but somewhere along the way they got lost.

Ever wonder what might have happened if they approached Jesus differently?

What would have happened if they assumed the best rather than the worst?

What if they started from a place of trust instead of suspicion? What if they assumed He meant well instead of harm? What if they assumed He had everyone’s best interest at heart?

What would have happened if they asked before they judged or condemned?

What if they assumed they didn’t know the whole story? What if they genuinely desired to understand before deciding?

You and I can’t change the interactions between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day. But every day I (and I’ll bet you) encounter situations, discussions, teachings, and decisions that don’t make sense. It’s so tempting to jump to a conclusion, judgement, condemnation based on my perspective.

What if I always assumed best intentions?

What if I make sure I understand before I decide?

What if I always lead with love and grace?

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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

Do You Agree?

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Recent events got me thinking about today’s word-of-the-week…
AGREE

Monday Wouldn’t it be great if we could all agree on every issue?

Sadly, The Good Ship Lollipop hasn’t sailed down my street recently and I haven’t taken up residence in Fantasyland. Since I don’t live in a bubble, I’m going to encounter people with whom I disagree.

In fact, I’d argue it’s my job to do exactly that, because that’s what Jesus did. He made a point of hanging out with the very people the hyper-religious types avoided. He went to their homes, attended their parties, ate their food…and asked us to follow Him.

Do you think He entered a house and started by saying something like “I want you to know I hate your sinful lifestyle and I’m only here because it’s my duty”? Do you think He felt like He was lowering His standards? Did He send someone else because He didn’t want to associate with some particular class of sinner?

I think He hung out with people because He loved them. He wasn’t worried that the neighborhood (or the country) might lose God’s favor because He honored, reached out to, respected another human being.

Jesus said it’s easy to love those who love you in return. He called us to do the hard thing, to love and serve those who aren’t so easy to love. (Luke 6)

I won’t speak for you. I think others see my faith in how I respond to those with whom I disagree. Honestly, I miss the mark a lot and I’m sorry for that.

I’m trying. I want them to see Jesus.

Your Opportunities in 2016

Monday, January 4th, 2016

For the first Monday of 2016 a perfect word-of-the-week

ENCOURAGEMENT

2016I’m so grateful that you read these words each week, and I’m prompted to begin 2016 with a message of encouragement.

I can’t promise you smooth roads and an easy path. Life doesn’t work like that. I do believe God offers an opportunity to write a remarkable story with the days of 2016. Like any great story, it will include challenges and conflict. You’ll need courage, and faith, and trust, and hope.

“Take courage! I Am. Don’t be afraid.”

I can’t promise God won’t give you more than you can handle. That’s a platitude for posters. I’m confident, though, that He’ll surround you with folks who will share the load, if you’ll let them. And Jesus will always walk beside you.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

May you find a cause worth investing in, fighting for, sacrificing for. And please remember that worthwhile investments involve risk, and fights worth fighting often leave a few battle scars. And sacrifice means…sacrificing something.

May you live free of fear. In a world in which many seek to manipulate by manufacturing and magnifying fear, I hope you’ll trust that God’s at work and the message of fear is the enemy’s lie.

May you, whenever possible, seek to think the best of others. Regarding people with mistrust and suspicion causes us to make up untrue stories in our heads and to ascribe bad motives to even good deeds.

May you leave the past in the past and avoid the silliness of tripping over obstacles that are behind you.

May you minimize worry which wastes so much energy and adds nothing to the quality of life.

May you forgive, not because it’s deserved or because you want to or because you feel like forgiving or even because you’re supposed to forgive. I hope you’ll forgive because it’s the only lasting path to peace and freedom.

May you know, with absolute confidence, that God works for good in all circumstances. None of your effort, success, struggle, pain, or failure will be wasted.

May you move forward with hope, the confident expectation that God always keeps His promises.

May you always lead with love. Not because it’s easy or because it makes sense or because it gets the desired short-term results. May you lead with love because it’s the path to Jesus and because, in the end, it’s the way the universe works.

My encouragement, dear friends, to you and to me for 2016.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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

Turmoil at Christmas Time

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Most of the time I don’t want to turn on the news. Robberies, shootings, and knifings make me wonder what happened to love and compassion. So do drug and alcohol-related deaths, domestic violence, and child-abuse. Do you feel that way too?

Cultural diversity, tolerance, and individual differences are preached more than ever before, but that doesn’t seem to resolve the situation. The crimes mentioned above, continue to leave families doubled over in pain and many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Amidst the Christmas lights, cookies, and carols, I struggle to understand why married couples turn into enemies, siblings into rivals, and coworkers into carriers of gossip and jealousy. Do you also struggle to understand this?

And yet I will not give up hope. Instead I will meditate on Isaiah 9:6:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

During this Christmas season, I choose to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and the significance of why he came to earth.

When I sense the turmoil in homes and offices, I will call upon the Prince of Peace. When I long for a miracle, I will pray to my Mighty God and Everlasting Father.

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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
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God And Baseball

Friday, November 27th, 2015

200px-Sandy_KoufaxSandy Koufax is a quiet, reserved man.

From 1960-1966 he was arguably the best pitcher in major league baseball. On October 6, 1965, Koufax declined to pitch the opening game of the World Series. Sandy Koufax is Jewish, and that day was Yom Kippur.

I remember being dumbfounded by the news. Fourteen-year-old me would have traded essential body parts to play in a World Series. Why would a guy turn down a chance to pitch game 1 for church?

I’m less dumbfounded these days. You shall have no other gods before me.  I get it.

Or…do I? I’ve never been faced with anything like the choice Koufax faced, and I likely never will. But I wonder what I would do? This isn’t about skipping church or anything legalistic. It’s deeper.

It’s about What comes before God?

When Koufax was asked in later years about whether his decision was difficult, he said it really wasn’t. He said it was just a matter of respect.

My life’s pretty darn cushy. I live under a blanket of privileges, most of which I probably don’t even recognize (until the toaster breaks).

I wouldn’t trade body parts these days for a spot in the World Series, mostly because I don’t have that many working body parts remaining. Paralysis alters one’s values, I guess.

But we all have our “cling-to’s,” those things or experiences we just don’t want to let go of.

Sandy Koufax let go of pitching game 1 of a World Series because God was more important.

I wonder what I’m clinging to so tightly that it’s more important than God? You?

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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

Choices: the “Best” or the “Right?”

Friday, November 20th, 2015

“Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.” Luke 10:42

Paul prayed that his friends “may be able to discern what is best.” Philippians 1:10

We must be always making choices in this world. We cannot take up everything that lies in our path–and we ought to choose the best things. Even among ‘right things’ there is room for choice, for some right things are better than others.

There are many Christians, however, who do not habitually choose the best things–but second-rate things. They labor for the food that perishes–when they might labor for the food that endures unto everlasting life. Even in their prayers, they ask for temporal blessings–when they might ask for spiritual treasures!

They are like “the man with the muck-rake” in Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’–who only looks ‘down’ and drags his rake among the weeds and worthless rubbish–while over his head are crowns which he might take into his hands!

They are like Esau, who sold his valuable birthright for some lentil stew. They toil for this world’s vain things–when they might have been laying up treasures in Heaven!

We only have one life to live–and we ought therefore to do the best we possibly can with it. We pass through this world only once–and we ought to gather up and take with us the things that will truly enrich us–things we can keep forever!

It is not worth our while, to toil and moil, and strive and struggle–to do things that will leave no lasting results when our life is done–while there are things we can do which have eternal significance!

“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!” Colossians 3:1-2

~J. R. Miller, “Life’s Byways and Waysides”

The Truth About Truth

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

What’s truth? Can we know it? Is there more than one version?
truth
Heady questions, for sure.

The sort of truth I’m talking about is eternal. It connects generations because it gives us a place to link current ideas and trends with those from previous eras.

I’m pretty sure truth can’t be expressed in words. Jesus came as a person and said He was the truth. I think we have to experience truth, live with it, travel with it in relationship if we want to understand it. That’s why Jesus rebuffed demands for a list of rules or a code that would tell people how to follow Him.

Truth, I think, always includes an element of mystery and wonder. Eternity is a very big place, and we’re always going to come up short when we try to wrap our finite minds around an eternal truth. It’s okay. Just because I don’t know everything doesn’t mean I don’t know anything. Rather than whittling away at the mystery until I narrow it to something I can grasp, I want to be content to stand in awe of what I can’t comprehend.

Finally, I personally feel no need to defend or justify truth. Others may differ, but I’m convinced I’ll never change someone’s mind with my words. I’ll be available and I’ll always offer my perception of truth, but my job is to demonstrate grace as freely as possible and trust God to open doors.

I have good friends who are certain there’s no such thing as absolute truth. We’ve had interesting conversations and I understand their premises. They smile when I say:

NOT BEING KNOWN DOESN’T STOP THE TRUTH FROM BEING TRUE

I’m grateful for the hope of a future based on the foundation of truth.

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

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