Archive for the ‘Step 4’ Category

Our wisest plans and best endeavors…

Friday, May 27th, 2016

We are disciples–Jesus is our Master. The world we live in is His school, and every person and event is under His management, designed to forward us in the great lessons which He would have us to learn–such as . . .
self-denial,
a distrust of creatures, and
an absolute dependence upon Himself.

In this view,
afflictions–are mercies,
losses–are gains,
hindrances–are helps, and
all things, even those which seem most contrary–are working together for our good.

Creatures smile upon us–or frown upon us; caress us–or disappoint us;
friends grow cool–and enemies become kind–
just as His wisdom sees most expedient to promote our spiritual progress.

Where we look for most blessing–it often comes to little;
where we look for nothing–we often obtain most benefit.

Our wisest plans and best endeavors at one time produce great troubles!
At another time, what we do at random, and what we account the most trifling incidents–are productive of happy, lasting, and extensive consequences.

It is well for us if, by a long train of such changing, checkered experiences–we at length attain to some proficiency, and can say with David, “My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.”

The heart possession of two maxims of Matthew Henry, is well worth all that the acquisition can cost us:
1. Every creature is to us–only what God makes it.
2. We cannot expect too little from man–nor too much from God.

In this school I am placed–and these lessons I am aiming to learn. But I am a poor scholar and indeed any master but He who condescends to be my teacher–would turn me out as an incorrigible dunce!

Yet I sincerely wish to be willing to be what, and where, and how the Lord would have me be–to cast all my cares simply upon Him, and to be always satisfied in my mind that He assuredly cares for me!

(Letters of John Newton)

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Ten Questions to Ask

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Ten questions to ask at the start of a New Year, or on your Birthday

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

[This] is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are ten questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God:

1. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year–and what will you do about it?

2. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life–and what will you do about it this year?

3. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

4. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

5. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?

6. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

7. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

8. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

9. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

10. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace–on your phone, tablet, day planner, calendar, bulletin board, etc.–where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

~Don Whitney

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
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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 Is The Other Guy So Unreasonable?

Monday, February 15th, 2016

It’s awfully easy to say, “You’re wrong. You’re an idiot. You’re a loser.”

Not all that yelluseful, though. Shouting at the guy on the other side (who thinks you’re wrong) isn’t likely to close the gap.

If your only goal is to sound cool to your own team by belittling the losers on the other side, I guess finding clever ways to highlight their mistakes makes sense. Otherwise, it only makes a difficult situation worse.

Here’s an uncomfortable fact: people make decisions for a reason. Folks with similar backgrounds and similar perceived options usually make similar choices. So if you want to know why someone made a particular decision, you must take the time to listen and understand their story.

That’s called empathy. Doesn’t mean you agree, only that you make the effort to understand and communicate your understanding.

There are two ways to close the gap.

The short path of violence. Get a bigger club (physical, economic, verbal, political, social), beat the other guy over the head, and force him to your side. Immediate gratification, almost no opportunity for long-term reconciliation.

The long path of nonviolence. Choose relationship, of empathy, of humility, of service, of love. Little possibility of immediate gratification, the only path to long-term reconciliation.

Arc Universe

Jesus spent much of His time with the folks on the other side. They were the losers of His day, and He showed us what might happen when we let go of power and choose empathy and humility.

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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

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

When You Say or Do the Wrong Thing

Friday, July 24th, 2015

After the legal separation, I never wanted to say anything against my estranged husband in our son’s presence. After all, my husband was still his father.

So much for my good intentions not to say anything against his father in front of my son. I let my tongue rip loose until I saw the hurt look on his face. I stopped immediately.

No matter what, my husband was still his father. My son needed both of us, and I learned to keep my mouth shut—not an easy lesson for a woman who likes to talk and hear herself think out loud.

I didn’t see that incident as one poor choice. Instead I saw it as a failure. My friends helped me distinguish between the two.

You won’t get it right every time either. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. When that happens, I encourage you not to see your setback as a failure. The only failure is to let a setback cause you to give up.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Dear God, when I say or do the wrong thing, give me strength to get back up and move forward. Amen.

Application: What will you do the next time you say or do the wrong thing?

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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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Forgive and Forget?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

“I can’t forget how my dad treats my mother,” Bridget screamed in her counseling session. “So how can I forgive him?”

“Why not take this situation one step at a time?” I asked the young woman.

Bridget raised her brows and said she didn’t understand.

I suggested she first walk through the truth of her father’s verbal and physical abuse of her mother and how much that hurt her.

Her eyes moistened with tears, and soon she sobbed. “He scared me. I hated all the commotion. Worst of all, Mom’s taken it for years.”

Bridget shook and cried again. She said that her dad also mistreats the kids. “I can’t stand his screaming, cursing, and temper tantrums.”

With a gentle tone, I explained that forgiveness is a process and takes time, especially when a person has been traumatized. Bridget nodded and leaned back in her chair.

“In the Bible, God tells us numerous times to forgive, but he never says, ‘Forgive and forget.’” I paused for Bridget to think about that. “If you forget, you may place yourself in a dangerous situation with your father and subject yourself to more abuse.”

At the end of the session, Bridget left with a journaling assignment and a Bible verse to meditate on and memorize.

Your circumstances may not be the same as Bridget’s, but you may also struggle with forgiveness. You may think you can’t forgive unless you forget.

Forgiveness won’t change the past. A healed memory doesn’t mean you develop amnesia about it.

Proverbs 22:3: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Dear God, help me understand forgiveness isn’t forgetting. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week to begin your process of forgiveness.

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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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

It’s Your Fault Not Mine!

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Margaret sat down in my office and said, “No matter what happens in our marriage, my husband says, ‘It’s your fault not mine.’”

I sat in silence and waited for her to say more. Her dark brown curly hair touched her shoulders, and her light brown eyes moistened with tears.

“Last night he cursed and screamed at me, ‘It’s your fault not mine. If you had served a better dinner and on time, I wouldn’t be angry.’” Margaret sighed, shook her head, and said, “Are all men like mine?”

“No, some are but not all of them.” I thought of similar incidents on my caseload, but I didn’t share those with Margaret. Instead I told her about a man named Aaron who was left in charge of a group of people and led them into doing wrong. When the leader returned, Aaron blamed the people.

Margaret laughed and said, “That sounds familiar.”

“What’s sad is that Aaron told the people to take off their gold jewelry.”

He told the leader, Moses, “Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

After we both laughed, I said, “Imagine that. An idol came out of the fire, but it wasn’t Aaron’s fault.”

“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughing stock to their enemies” (Exodus 32:25).

Dear God, when I’m wrong, help me admit it. When I’m not, help me admit that too. Amen.

Application: What will you do this week not to enable someone to get out of control and blame you?

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 Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer.
If you would like to have her speak for your organization or church, please contact her through
her website: http://YvonneOrtega.com

Reconciliation with God, Others and Yourself

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Reconciliation has many aspects: reconciliation with others (who you have offended or who have offended you), reconciliation with yourself. Reconciliation with God.

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:
1. The act of reconciling parties at variance; renewal of friendship after disagreement or enmity.
Reconciliation and friendship with God, really form the basis of all rational and true enjoyment.
2. In Scripture, the means by which sinners are reconciled and brought into a state of favor with
God, after natural estrangement or enmity; the atonement; expiation.

— How do you define reconciliation in your own practical terms?
— Has it been missing from your life and/or recovery?
— What issues and difficulties have you encountered finding reconciliation with:

** God
** Others whom you have hurt or who have hurt you
** Yourself

— Do any scriptures speak to your heart regarding reconciliation?

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Dealing with Self-righteous People

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Self-righteous people are just comparing.

I never thought about it like that until Don Miller pointed out that self-righteousness is really just a way of building myself up by tearing others down. It’s not about being truly righteous, only appearing to be in a bit better class of sinner than the next guy.

That’s why self-righteous folks are so concerned with rules. Man-made rules are nearly always designed to distinguish who’s doing it better, even if the distinctions are artificial.

I started thinking about Jesus’ principles and realized they’re never like that. You can’t rank people based on how much they love. You just love, as much as possible, and there’s always more where that came from. Same for grace, hope, truth, mercy, compassion, forgiveness—you start trying to measure and compare that stuff and you start looking pretty silly.

You can’t force people to do the things that matter to Jesus—love, forgive, and all the rest—and you can’t make rules about them. Jesus reserved his harshest condemnation for the Pharisees who substituted their own burdensome rules for the freedom of following His principles.

I learning that God doesn’t care much if I love right, or forgive right, or do compassion right. He doesn’t grade on a curve—in fact, He doesn’t grade at all.

I think He celebrates when we try our best to do those things and forget about keeping score.

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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